Viacom, one of the world’s largest media corporations, and Second Chance Toys, an East Coast nonprofit, have partnered to reduce the amount of plastic toys that enter landfills and to put smiles on the faces of kids living below the poverty level by collecting and distributing toys to those in need.
Ali Tuck, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Viacom, manages Viacom’s CSR strategies across multiple networks and develops cross-company partnerships with corporations and non-profit organizations.
Why did Viacom partner with Second Chance Toys and when did this partnership start?
We began our partnership with Second Chance Toys (SCT) back in 2013 when one of our employees recommended partnering with SCT for our annual companywide day of volunteerism, Viacommunity Day. We set them up in our Time Square building, where a group of employees, with our CEO, Philippe Dauman, worked side by side helping volunteers clean, tag, and sort toys and wrote special messages for children in need.
This first initiative went so well that we at Viacom decided to do additional events with SCT throughout the year. We broadened our partnership to engage in toy drives with more of our employees.. This partnership came to us through one of our people, who are the biggest champions of our programs and the guiding force of our pro-social efforts. SCT is a great example of our ground-up approach to social responsibility.
How has Viacom helped Second Chance Toys with the mission of reducing plastic in landfills and bringing smiles to children in need?
Let’s start by talking about the mission.
Second Chance Toys mission is two-fold. The first is to provide toys to children who are less fortunate and might not otherwise receive holiday or developmental toys. The second is to remove plastic toys from the waste stream in order to reduce pollution and environmental damage.
We want to be a big part of helping SCT accomplish this mission. We do this both through volunteerism and raising awareness of SCT’s work.
With regard to volunteering, Viacom activates hundreds of employees to donate toys for repurposing and landfill avoidance. Our employees are pitching in, sorting and cleaning toys, as well as championing the events for collection and delivery.
Bringing awareness to the cause is just as important. Our platform is large and broad enough that we can help propel initiatives such as SCT into the spotlight, helping the cause gain more attention and support locally and around the country.
Are there measured results you can share?
If you go to the Second Chance Toys website http://www.secondchancetoys.org/ you can see a running tally of the toys that have been donated so far. To date, there have been 231,160 toys donated to children in need.
We do know from our past events that we’ve had more than one hundred volunteers and over 1,000 toys collected at each occasion. This January, we at Viacom will be kicking off another SCT toy drive. This is the time of year when kids get new toys for Christmas and may no longer want or need the old toys they already have, which makes for perfect timing when it comes to donations.
Viacom has a long standing culture of philanthropy and giving. Can you tell us more about Viacommunity and some of the efforts the company has taken on?
Viacommunity is the umbrella for all of our social responsibility efforts across the company. For many years, we’ve initiated programs inside and outside the company walls that connect us with efforts that make the world a better place. We’ve worked with many nonprofits, engaged our employees to volunteer their time, and worked closely with the communities we serve.
Viacom’s platforms serve as a megaphone for educating and empowering our audiences to drive change. We leverage our brands’ voices to address the issues that are most relevant to viewers.
A few examples include our work with the Look Different program on MTV which “helps teens and young adults challenge bias in their daily lives.” This campaign encourages young people to talk about biases encountered in their daily lives. We are also engaged in bringing awareness about bullying in the LGBT community by supporting GLAAD’s Spirit Day. Another initiative we are very proud of is our partnership with New York Collaborates for Autism, which has raised $18 million since 2006.
As a corporation, transparency and social responsibility are in the spotlight these days. How do these efforts and initiatives like SCT align with Viacom’s corporate strategy for social responsibility?
We are now in our twentieth anniversary year of Viacommunity. We’ve had a formalized social responsibility program long before it was the trend and new paradigm shift in business.
Social impact is in our company DNA and has been part of our culture from the very beginning. Decades ago, we were the first network to talk about HIV/AIDS. We’ve always been focused on discussing tough issues and starting the conversations that improve lives.
We realized early on that our employees are the heart of everything we do. We provide the tools and support for the efforts they are passionate about. We then help to tie these efforts to the concerns of our audiences.
Last year, more than 6,000 employees volunteered. There were more than 25,000 volunteer hours completed by Viacom employees both during work hours and on personal time. There were over fifty tons of food, clothing, and other items collected last year for causes our employees were passionate about.
This sounds like you have an instituted employee engagement model that works. Is there a process employees go through in order to join Viacom’s social responsibility efforts?
Yes! We have a couple different ways that we engage employees.
Our internal volunteering site helps employees find initiatives they can join based on their location, organization or the cause they care about.
There is also a more formal skills-based program where employees can donate their time and effort to nonprofits that are in dire need of their services and expertise. We’ve paired employees with nonprofits that need help with contract reviews, pitch plans, and branding. There are many ways our employees share their expertise with organizations who need them.
In addition, employees can mentor high school students through our Viacommunity UP mentoring program. Through the program employees mentor high school students interested in media, developing relationships that last beyond high school and throughout college and their career.
How can people learn more about Viacom and SCT’s efforts?
Visit Viacommunity at www.viacommunity.com, to download an annual copy of our Corporate Social Responsibility report and get a deeper understanding of what each of our brands is doing to further their efforts in social responsibility. For Second Chance Toys, check out www.secondchancetoys.org for more information on their latest initiatives, statistics, and how to get involved.